April 18, 2006

Divina Cucina...on the Road

Last month I spent three weeks... on the road.

It is always hard for me to leave Florence, I have really become more Italian and more a homebody instead of the wandering gypsy I was.

First stop home, then up to Sonoma to teach at Ramekins, I taught 4 classes, here are some shots of the Naples menu class.

Last year, we went to Naples for the Christmas fair, and I discovered some wonderful dishes I had only read about. We visited Pompeii, and the wonderful Museum in Naples which has some of the mosaics saved from Pompeii, gave me some great ideas for my bathroom.
I think my husband is worried!

My Naples menu for the class in Sonoma was:

Mozzarella in Carrozza- mini fried mozzarella sandwiches

Peperoni Mimi alla Ferrovia- Roasted pepper rolls with bread "meatball" filling

Acqua Pazza- a fabulous recipe which in one pan creates both your first course and main course. Roasted Fish in "Crazy Water" with garlic, olive oil ,chili pepper, white wine and Shrimp, Mussels and Sea Bass. The Sea Bass is served on the side and the rest sauteed with pasta as a incredible one course meal. We saw this often in Naples, sometimes called Santa Lucia.

We also made Casiatello, a rich rolled bread, filled with salame, prosciutto, black pepper, parmesan and swiss cheese..and the secret ingredient.. LARD!!! Traditionally made for Easter with eggs baked on top, we are lucky enough to find this at a local baker in Poggibonsi that caters to Napoletano clients.

Our dessert was also a speciality for Easter, Pastiera. Although I think there was doubtful students that this dessert was going to be good, all were pleasantly surprised.

Not a cheesecake, but more like a delicate sweet quiche, this light dessert is made with boiled grain ( we had found boiled Farro) which is added to the ricotta and eggs and sweetened with sugar and orange flower water and cinnamon and baked in a very delicate crust.

The students did a fabulous job with all the dishes!

Once a year I attend a culinary convention with IACP , the culinary association I belong to.
It is my chance to network and connect with my collegues.
This year it was in Seattle so while on the west coast I also planned to visit with family and teach some classes.

I also presented a panel at the IACP conference with my friend Kate Hill from Agen, France and Fergus Henderson from St John Restaurant in London and myslef from Tuscany.

Our panel was on Artisan Pork Traditions in Three Countries and called Saints Preserve Us, in honor of this we created another blog called Going Whole Hog
We had over 250 people in attendence so was a great turn out.
Also speaking with someone as important as Fergus, we were invited to some fun meals with some of the board members and other panelists.
At one dinner, met Brian Fagan, one of my husbands favorite writers on Mayan history, when I mentioned this to Brian, he said..." Ah, the Mayans were so boring!"
He was presenting a panel about "Fish on Friday" from his new book.
It is facinating to see who is involved in food... anthropologists???
We ARE what we eat.

As part of our tasting, I smuggled in some Burro di Chianti from Dario of the Macelleria Cecchini in Chianti, a wonderfully rich herb infused lard. Adam at the W hotel also recreated my Soprasatta of pig trotters and cooked the brined Pork Belly for Fergus. ( recipes on the Whole Hog Blog)

So for myself for Easter had to follow my nose...I saw a suckling pig in the market and went nose to tailagain!


after, roasted with only extra virgin olive oil and sea salt
Finger licking good.

Happy Easter to all.


  1. wow - this all looks so good... I'd love to try the suckling pig (not sure my wife would like me doing this one at home though - indeed not sure my oven's big enough!)

  2. Next time you go on the road, I wanna be your 'roadie'!

  3. Richard,
    This was a half a suckling pig in a regular oven.

    David.. you're on!

  4. I want those Mozzarella sandwishes now, they look divine & with half an hour til lunch time I could use a plateful. Great blog of yours by the way which I have just discovered